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Awarded for Leadership


Carl Anderson

(photo credit: SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)


The Benedict Leadership Institute of Belmont Abbey College presented Supreme Knight Carl Anderson with the inaugural Benedict Leadership Award for his work in behalf of persecuted Christians.

The institute selected Anderson for his repeated advocacy of persecuted religious minorities facing genocide in the Middle East. It also applauded his efforts in leading the Knights of Columbus to raise more than $12 million in humanitarian relief for Christian refugees.

In his address at the award ceremony, Supreme Knight Anderson described the injustices and dangers faced by Christians in the Middle East. “Christianity was born in the Middle East. We often forget that today.” He pointed out that since the early 1900s the number of Christians have dwindled in that area, particularly in Iraq. Christians in the Middle East face extinction, Anderson said.

“Where has been the effective leadership in the West to rescue them?” he asked. “I would say now is the time for action. Their plight calls out to us for action and a new spirit of Christian solidarity. Their witness should inspire us to take up the challenge,” he urged.

Supreme Knight Anderson added that the new administration should begin to right this wrong and chart a different course. “It can quickly end this de facto discrimination, and in so doing, help save ancient ethnic and religious communities that could otherwise cease to exist,” he said.

In a letter to the supreme knight, Benedict Leadership Institute Executive Director Conor Gallagher wrote, “While your life displays numerous reasons for being worthy of the Benedict Leadership Award, the Board wished to honor and highlight your leadership in one area in particular: your resolute defense of persecuted Christians ... It is our hope that your Award will bring attention and relief to persecuted Christians and move the public to act more decisively in their behalf.”

The Knights of Columbus has raised more than $12 million for Christian refugee relief since 2014. The Knights also spearheaded the campaign that led to last year’s March 17 genocide declaration by the State Department. As part of the effort, the organization and its partners prepared a nearly 300-page report on the genocide being carried out against Christians by ISIS and other extremist groups. The State Department’s declaration was only the second instance in which the U.S. government declared an ongoing situation to be genocide.

The Benedict Leadership Award will now be an annual activity of the Benedict Leadership Institute, which was founded in 2016 to develop and inspire Catholic leaders to transform society in light of the faith. The award is designed to recognize outstanding men and women whose achievements reflect the heroic leadership of St. Benedict.

Belmont Abbey College, home of the Benedict Leadership Institute, is a Catholic college located near Charlotte, N.C. Founded in 1876 by Benedictine monks, it is recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society as one of America’s top Catholic colleges.

For more information on the Benedict Leadership Institute, please visit benedictleadershipinstitute.org.